Philippines steps up flood rescue and relief efforts
Philippine emergency workers Thursday stepped up efforts to help more than 2 million people affected by floods caused by days of monsoon rains in the capital and surrounding provinces.
At least 43 people were killed in Manila and 16 provinces in the northern region of Luzon, where floodwaters had mostly been receding but rose again in some areas because of intermittent rain.
Thirty of the victims drowned while nine were killed in a landslide, three died from electrocution and one from cardiac arrest, according to reports from the Office of Civil Defence, police and local authorities.
Four people were missing and at least 14 injured, the officials added.
More than half a million people have been displaced with 314,795 staying in 630 evacuation centres and another 265,284 taking shelter with relatives or friends, the Office of Civil Defence said.
President Benigno Aquino III visited the affected suburbs in Manila and assured residents that the government was mobilizing all agencies and volunteer groups to provide them food, potable water, medicines and other services.
"You can be assured that we will not abandon you," he told residents in the Marikina City suburb, one of the worst-hit areas in the metropolis. "The government is well prepared and we still have enough funds to help everyone."
Aquino also said that the government was studying long-term solutions for flood-prone communities.
"We are talking about relocation ... and there is also infrastructure that we need," he told residents of Caloocan City, another affected suburb.
But it will take years for us to build infrastructure. The important thing is that every year, the problems we experience during the rainy season are reduced."
In total, 2.11 million people have been affected, including those still in their homes but who might need food and water, medical help and logistical assistance, the Office of Civil Defence said.
A total of 3,116 houses were damaged by the floods, the agency added.
"It's still touch and go," said Fabian Cadiz, vice mayor of Marikina City. "The weather is really fickle-minded. We just have to be prepared."
Cadiz said rescuers had to forcibly evacuate hundreds of people near the Marikina River, which has risen more than 5 metres above its normal depth of 15 metres, inundating houses along its banks.
Some residents returned to their homes late Wednesday as the floodwaters receded, despite the order to leave.
The Office of Civil Defence said more than 13,000 emergency workers using 275 rafts and boats and 182 land vehicles have been dispatched for the rescue and relief operations.
The deluge was the worst to hit Manila since 2009 when flash floods triggered by Tropical Storm Ketsana left 501 people dead and missing.Author: Girlie Linao